Cocoa Goes Crazy as It's Time to Be a `Raging Long-Term Bull'

(Bloomberg) -- Cocoa prices took off Monday after Citigroup Inc. predicted the tightest supply situation in a decade. One analyst said that this could just be the start of the rally and it’s time to be a “raging long-term bull.”

Here’s what traders are watching:

Futures Jump

Cocoa for July delivery jumped as much as 5.4 percent to $2,714 a metric ton Monday on ICE Futures U.S. in New York, the highest since October 2016. Prices have surged 43 percent in 2018 as dryness plagues crops in West Africa, which accounts for more than two-thirds of global supplies.

Cocoa Goes Crazy as It's Time to Be a `Raging Long-Term Bull'

This year’s gains for cocoa are a stark reversal from the last two years, when futures plunged more than 40 percent amid a global glut. The lower prices took a toll on growers, who cut spending on farm maintenance. That’s now showing up in crop quality as yields begin to drop. At the same time, demand for chocolate has stayed strong.

Shortages Ahead

The cocoa market is heading for supply shortages this year and next, Citigroup said in a report Sunday, citing rising demand and shrinking crops. Back-to-back deficits would make for the tightest supply situation since 2008, according to data from the International Cocoa Organization.

Along with the problems for African crops, other growers are also facing challenges. Indonesia’s output is likely to trail expectations this season, Citigroup said. The nation’s production has slumped in the past decade due to aging trees, diseases, extreme weather and better returns for other commodities.

El Nino Looms

There’s a 37 percent chance that an El Nino weather pattern will form by early fall, according to the U.S. Climate Prediction Center. The phenomenon is known for bringing even more dryness to West African cocoa regions.

Cocoa Goes Crazy as It's Time to Be a `Raging Long-Term Bull'

“We are raging long-term bulls in the cocoa market given the high correlation of bullish price moves against poor Western African cocoa production output during El Nino years,” Shawn Hackett, the president of Hackett Financial Advisors in Boynton Beach, Florida, said in a report. “The longer time passes by and the more El Nino weather impacts begin to run the global weather patterns, the more bullish this market will become,” he said, adding that futures could test the 32-year high that was set in 2011.

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